As had been speculated earlier in the week, the Habs have inked defenceman Xavier Ouellet to a one-year, two-way contract. The deal is worth $700,000 in the NHL and guarantees $350,000 in total.
At just 24 years of age, Ouellet was one of the younger blueliners on the open market. Of course, the only reason he was there is that Detroit, a team that has struggled defensively, opted to buy him out of the final year of his contract instead of paying him a $1.3 million salary.
Ouellet was a frequent healthy scratch with the Red Wings last season but still got into 45 games where he recorded seven assists while averaging 13:51 per night. In his career, he has a total of 141 NHL contests under his belt – all with Detroit – with a total of 23 points.
Considering Montreal’s current depth on the left side in the NHL (including Karl Alzner, Victor Mete, David Schlemko, Mike Reilly, and Jordie Benn), it’s hard to envision Ouellet cracking the NHL roster out of training camp unless some other moves are made between now and then. Presently, he seems to be a candidate to play in Laval, assuming he clears waivers.
If that is indeed what happens, he’ll find a familiar face behind the bench. Joel Bouchard, the new coach of the Rocket, was Ouellet’s assistant coach for two seasons with Blainville-Boisbriand of the QMJHL and that familiarity may have played a role in this signing.
Ouellet will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season and will be eligible for salary arbitration.